night-moves

Is there anyone out there, anyone at all, who can explain to me what our “objective” is in Afghanistan?

Before I go off on one, Y-fronts over my head, screaming down the street:

‘BRRRRROOOOOWWWWNNN…WHAT THE FECK YER DOOOOIN’?’

Is there somewhere a calm voice of reason that can explain what the hell British soldiers are doing in a shithole like Afghanistan? After all, the mighty armies of the USSR got their backsides well and truly kicked over there, remember (surely you do, we helped fund the Taliban and Bin Laden in their struggle against the evil ol’ Ruskies)?

Oh, yeah, before anyone brings it up like the dog’s feckin’ dinner, I know about “the need” to protect the (possible) oil and gas pipeline! So, British and US troops are out there because Union Oil of California proposed a pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean port of Karachi? Is that it? The plan had to be abandoned ‘cause of the Taliban’s topsy-turvy, medieval and chaotic regime, but now it might just be a goer again? With the Taliban shoved onto the back foot, so to speak?

So what do the British politicians say about the situation? On Question Time the other evening the Conservative argument was (like the Government’s) we’re in there to win. If we pull out it will destroy any relationship that may exist between Britain and the US. Also it’ll lead to more terrorist attacks on Britain…

Why?

How many troops do Switzerland have over there? How many terrorist attacks have taken place on Swiss soil?

So, talk show host Trisha Goddard suggested the war might be “unwinnable”.

You reckon?

Now, never mind the morality (or total lack of same) of what we’ve done, the great British media, bless ‘em, make a big deal about Helicopters!

What? Are you feckin’ mad? Helicopters?

So the usual circus kicks off: the Prime Mentalist with all the sincerity of a stoat on methadone, says nonsense! Helicopters ( he means Chinooks, by the way…for the uninitiated, the argument is about transportation helicopters) have been increased by 60%!!!! WOW!! 60% is a lot of helicopters, isn’t it? So we now have ten (yes, TEN) of these ‘copters operating in Afganistan!

The media response is a comparison between Britain and the US of helicopters per head of soldiers in the war theatre – it’d actually be more to the point comparing the number of helicopters we have, to the number the Dutch have deployed! The US has always spent big time on their military, providing a veritable cornucopia of material for their use – especially in these imperialistic small wars (a left over from the nineteenth century that seems to have leaked into the twenty-first?).

Now, since the beginnings of time, the Generals of every nation in times of war never have enough! Not enough men, tanks, munitions, helicopters. Whatever. Offer the military two battalions of partially armed Salvation Army carol singers and they’d take ‘em. Hannibal sitting outside Rome with his army (the war more or less won), sent back to Carthage for more Elephants etc…and lost the war while he waited for them!

If Britain had ten times more helicopters, odds are the Taliban would be shooting ‘em down. This is from the Telegraph in April 2008:

“British troops in Afghanistan are being targeted by surface-to-air missiles supplied by Iran, a senior Army source said yesterday.

“Officers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are supplying hundreds of weapons, including the missiles, to Taliban insurgents, it is believed.

“Most worrying is the news that SA7 Strella anti-aircraft missiles have been supplied to the Taliban. The weapons are a serious threat to helicopters supplying more than 6,000 troops.

“It is not thought the Taliban are well trained in how to use the weapons most effectively. In southern Helmand yesterday they fired an anti-aircraft weapon at an American F18 fighter without hitting it.

“Other weapons being smuggled in include plastic explosives, anti-tank mines, AK47s, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.”

In March of 2009, US Intelligence released this information to the world’s press:

“IRAN is supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan with surface-to-air missiles capable of destroying a helicopter, according to American intelligence sources.

They believe the Taliban wants to use the SA-14 Gremlins missiles to launch a “spectacular” attack against coalition forces in Helmand, where insurgents claim to be gaining the upper hand.

“Although British and American helicopters operating in southern Afghanistan are equipped with defensive systems to deflect an attempted strike, the SA-14 can evade such counter-measures …

“Special forces have previously intercepted arms shipments from Iran that would have helped the Taliban intensify a roadside bombing campaign that has killed 40 British troops over the past 18 months, including three last week.

“However, coalition forces only became aware of the presence of SA14s two weeks ago when parts from two of them were discovered during an American operation in western Afghanistan.”

The British media argues for more transport helicopters to overcome the problem of ground based transportation convoys being “hit” by roadside bombs. Ultimately, it’ll make no difference to our casualty rate.

More to the point is the question: “Where is the Afghan national army?” (apparently there is significant drug abuse and incompetency in the Afghan National Army)

The problem is Afghanistan is a geographical construct – there is no national identity, because the countless indigenous tribes have loyalty to their chiefs and to the tribe. So, the “country” as such is almost “non-existent” (except on the maps of our military).

In highlighting and arguing about these things, the world and his wife are transformed into armchair generals. In doing so they miss the real point. Why did Britain invade Afghanistan in the first place? What right did we have to do that? Was it not a breach of International law? In which case why are we still there?

And if in its actions Britain isn’t guilty of “crimes against humanity”, then what actually is it we think we’re going to achieve…and how?

It strikes me at the moment that both Britain and the US are desperately looking for an “exit strategy”. So, if they can hammer the Taliban and just shut ‘em up for a couple of months or so…well, then they can hold some elections, hand over security to the Afghan Government and sod off sharpish…because everybody knows it’s not a war they can possibly win!